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Are Businesses Ignoring Stay At Home Order? Sedgwick County Says Yes.

Carla Eckels
KMUW/File photo

Sedgwick County is checking into nearly three dozen businesses that might be violating the statewide stay-at-home order.

Gov. Laura Kelly issued the public health order last week to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses and services defined as essential are allowed to stay open while nonessential businesses were supposed to temporarily close. The stay-at-home order is in effect until April 19.

Sedgwick County set up a violation reporting system to document complaints about nonessential businesses operating or nonessential activities happening.

Assistant County Manager Tania Cole says temporarily shutting down nonessential businesses is necessary to keep the community safe.

“As people are reporting in, don’t feel like you are tattling on your neighbors, you’re tattling on these businesses, [the stay-at-home order] is put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” Cole says.

As of Monday, the county received 376 phone calls, 900 emails and 611 online forms.

Cole says when the violation reporting system first started, most of the inquiries were questions or clarifications about whether businesses were defined as essential. More recently, she says people were notifying the county about a business that might be operating in violation of the order.

“Some of those complaints, we have to just take some time and understand what that business is and understand whether that is a nonessential business or essential,” Cole says.

The county’s leaders and lawyers are reviewing complaints on a daily basis. The county will ask businesses that violate the order to shut down. If they don’t close, law enforcement will be notified.

“We will send a violation letter to those businesses. We’re asking them to basically cease their business within 24 hours,” Cole says.

Cole says as of Monday, 35 businesses will likely receive letters.

The county encourages residents who have concerns or complaints about businesses or people not following the order to call (316) 660-9000, email stayathomefaq@sedgwick.gov or submit the online form at sedgwickcounty.org.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.